It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Jewish Experiance (of a Crip)

I like that I'm finally beginning to discuss Judaism on here, to reflect on my Jewish journey. In ways it shapes who I am just as much as being a crip. It's a piece of me too, the other side of my coin.

[image description: star of david necklace over torah text]

2 people in Hillel have been planning a program--The Jewish Experience. What it was was 2 sessions and then a panel discussion. Present were a Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Orthodox Rabbi. They each spoke separately, so you got to hear 2 of them since there were 2 sessions, and then there was a panel of all 3. I'm going to call them by stupid names just so I don't disclose their identity w/o their permission.

The first guy I went to was Mr. Reconstructionist Rabbi. He had worked at my camp one summer when I was 13, is the head of another local Hillel now, someone I traveled to Israel w/on a group trip 2 years ago, and is very gay, very out and proud gay. I respect him for this now, though I (and the rest of my fellow campers) were very put off by it when we were 13. 13 yos are so immature. I also respect the Reconstructionist movement for embracing LGBT into their community and allowing such a very gay man to become a Rabbi. They're so cool! Until recently if you were going to become a Conservative Rabbi you had to be in the closet--very in the closet. That's not right--to me anyway.

His bio in the brochure said something about his interest in the LGBT community, but not right out that he is gay. He mentioned in passing something about including LGBT in the Jewish community. When it was time for Q&A one of my friends asked him to expand on this further. He did. To sum it up very briefly he talked about how much including people who are different into your community enriches it. Right on! Now why doesn't the LGBT community team up with the crip community sometime? We're all on the same page it seems. I might have added something about disability community, but I couldn't work it in where it would fit right. Then all of a sudden we were out of time.

After Mr. Reconstructionist Rabbi I decided to go next door to Mr. Conservative Rabbi. He was cool too. I was able to bring up the time I got the feeling that the Conservative Movement was turning slowly to be cult-like (another story for another time) and we had a discussion about that. A lot of what he talked about was changing with the times to keep people connected and involved. What about virtual services? An idea to consider. Why not? Therapydoc talks about virtual therapy (don't have the time to locate a post) about facilitating sessions over skype while she has to be away. I don't think it's a big step from that to virtual services. He talked about how he may start tweeting, but not a blog particularly b/c those take up so much time (they do). He asked if there were people who found that they were closer to people they know online then people in real life. One other person besides me raised their hands. He mentioned how being online opens up so many more lines of communication. I agreed. Someone disagreed. We could have possibly gotten into a fight, but the topic of conversation very easily shifted. Anyway, I am now going to call him Mr. AWESOME Liberal Conservative Rabbi. I don't know many Rabbis who so readily embrace new technology. I was about to ask Mr. AWESOME Liberal Conservative Rabbi about crip inclusion when we again ran out of time. The one and only complaint I have about this program is that there wasn't enough time for anything. Jews like to talk and debate.

So then we got to the panel. I sat for a bit, went out to use the facilities, and when I returned was quietly whispered that the current topic was Why do bad things happen to good people? 'Hmmm...' I thought. 'Can I work disability in here?'

Then it happened. Mr. Orthodox Rabbi spoke. In my experience, Rabbis (especially Orthodox Rabbis) and hebrew school teachers like to use very old stories that have been passed on from generation to generation when making a point. Mr. Orthodox Rabbi's story was used to emphasize how sometimes things that seem bad are really good. I hope I have it close to right.

[image description: donkey]

There was this guy way back when who was traveling somewhere on a donkey. He had a candle w/him to use to see in the dark & a rooster to use as an alarm clock, b/c you know, alarm clocks weren't invented yet. How you travel w/a rooster I don't know. Anyway, he stopped at an inn and the inn was full. He had to sleep outside. While he was outside his candle somehow got blown out, some predator animal ate his rooster, and a bigger predator animal ate his donkey (I forget the specifics of this part). A situation where people go "FUCK!" It turns out though that that night a group of Roman soldiers overtook the inn and killed everyone, but he was spared b/c he was not in the inn. He was spared b/c there was no candle to shed light or animals to make noise that would blow his cover.

That was my in. I raised my hand. "Along the lines of something bad being good, Mr. Reconstructionist Rabbi #1 (who had had to leave and was replaced by Mr. Reconstructionist Rabbi #2, who works at another local Hillel) talked about inclusion of the LGBT community. I have a wheelchair out in the hall. I have a disability. Throughout history disability has been seen as bad. As something evil. Captain Hook has a hook b/c it makes him more evil. But really, disability is not something bad. Including disenfranchised groups enriches the community. But in my experiences, the Jewish community is actively pushing us away. Either by actually pushing us away or by choosing not to educate themselves, to become ignorant. Why is that?"

I was disappointed. Mr. Orthodox Rabbi very slyly like a good politician, brought the discussion back to the original question and neither Mr. Reconstructionist Rabbi #2 nor Mr. AWESOME Liberal Conservative Rabbi took the opportunity to bring it back. I know that if Mr. Reconstructionist Rabbi #1 had still been there he would have answered me right off. As I already said, he's disenfranchised too and we're very clearly on the same page. I also think that given more time to answer, Mr. Awesome Liberal Conservative Rabbi would have answered me too. He came up and apologized to me that my question did not get answered. I shared one of my experiences; the shortest one I could think of. He told me about how 2 years ago they put a ramp up to the bima, and the building was built in 1922. Both religious organizations and historical buildings are exempt from the ADA. They never had to do that, but they did. I went to their website (I guess now I'm giving up his identity) to check the place out. I liked him and he captured my interest. Why in the world didn't he tell me about this?:

Friday, May 1 6:00 pm -9:00 pm Services, Dinner and Lecture with Guest Speaker Rabbi Tzvi Marx

6:00 pm Services
7:00 pm Dinner (limited seating, please RSVP by the 24th of April)
Costs: Adults- $18
Children 6-12 yrs.- $12
Children under 6 yrs.- Free
Maximum per family- $48
8:00 pm Lecture by Rabbi Marx
Topic:"Jewish Attitudes Toward the Handicapped"

I'm going to go I hope and hopefully bring a friend or two. If you're reading this and you're a local and decide you want to go too, leave me a comment. I'd love to meet you.


NicoleD said...

hi cheryl
--so i wanted to comment on this because I just started to follow your blog. I tend to agree with you about the orthodox community. I work at a jewish sunday school, where the primary clientel are orthodox students. While, I love this population, I often feel that it is hidden or disgraced within the community. They do not provide for them in their schools, they dont make accomadations and its down right frusterating. I hate how the orthodox community acts as if these young and special individuals dont exist and i am sorry that the orthodox rabbi just blew off your question but he is representing the community and what they do. I wish there was more disability awareness which lacks from the baltimore orthodox community!

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